Educator Toolkit: Effective Communications

by Kara Dunn

Why This Matters Now

Communication is the foundation of any relationship, personal or professional. June is Effective Communications Month in the U.S., which is a great opportunity to explore all the ways we express ourselves and build our personal brand, as well as how we can improve relationship building through strong communication. Buck Benedict, who teaches public speaking and speech writing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, says, “Communications is a skill. Athletes know that they’ve got to practice… and have repetition in terms of learning good things and doing them over and over again.” Learning to communicate well is no different; it’s a muscle that must be strengthened. Young leaders also need to understand that communicating successfully with others requires the ability to connect emotionally and understand thoughts, views and feelings.


Tech Entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi Explains How Relationships Build Careers
Why should I care about how I communicate? If you’re anticipating this question from students, give communication skills some context. Ed Yu, a retired PwC exec who has spoken with KWHS on emotional intelligence, says, “Plenty of people will type at each other. But those who are able to have live, interpersonal interactions with people…and develop relationships will be successful.” In the above article, Sachin Rekhi, a LinkedIn insider, underscores the power of relationships in work and career. Use the Conversation Starters that accompany the article to get students thinking and talking and then writing their own ideas and experiences in the Comments section.

Lesson Plan
Communication Styles: In this lesson, students learn about communication styles in business and analyze one another’s style to understand their own personal approach. Are they a director, socializer, relater or thinker? They work in pairs to describe images to each other using descriptive language and then reflect on their style for communicating ideas. Awareness of other communication styles will help them become empathetic and accepting leaders.

Hands-on Learning
Effective communicators are often good storytellers. Have students read the KWHS interview with Sara Hurwitz, speechwriter for former First Lady Michelle Obama –particularly her last answer about using “vivid details” to relate experiences. Ask each student to come up with a story from his or her own life and deepen its impact through details (if they are struggling, then you might want to provide some generic prompts). Just as in good writing, encourage students to show, rather than tell what is happening. After 20 minutes of free writing, ask for volunteers to share their colorful scenes. What helped to bring the vignette alive? How might they strengthen their message? Share the best class story in the Comments section of the article.

Video Glossary
Provide an extra layer of learning for your students with our video glossary. Here Wharton professors define terms: Power of Silence

KWHS Quote of the Month
“It may be tough to build up the courage to send someone who is older than you an e-mail asking for something, but it’s so vital. The worst thing they can tell you is no. But when they do tell you yes, that opens the door to infinite possibilities. It’s all about understanding that one simple connection can lead to so much.”” — Alexander Swerdlow, founder, GivingBackPacks

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